Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker is following in the footsteps of his mentor, Kobe Bryant, staking his claim as the best at his position in the NBA. Like Bryant, it’s taken Booker a few years to scale that mountain of elite two-guards, but I think we can say he has arrived at the peak.
Booker is the best player and leading scorer (23.9 ppg) on the second-best team in the league. Only one other player for the Suns averages more than 15 ppg, and that is Deandre Ayton with 15.4. Booker doesn’t have a co-star that can give the Suns 30-plus a night, but Chris Paul affects the game in ways only a few others have without scoring a ton of points each night.
The game looks to be coming so easily to Booker over these last two seasons as it feels like he’s finally found a groove to settle into. His points per game are down compared to previous years, but Booker is currently shooting the three-ball over 40 percent (41 to be exact) for the first time in his career. In a league that’s become so focused on outside shooting, that’s a big jump and an essential ingredient for Booker and the Suns’ early-season success.
While other names in this conversation — Bradley Beal, Donovan Mitchell, Zach LaVine, and C.J. McCollum — are outstanding, Booker is efficiently leading his team in a manner the others haven’t matched. If not for the resurgence of the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix would be the talk of the league, but instead, they’ve just been plugging along on a 16-game winning streak. They play the Warriors on Tuesday in what could be a Western Conference finals preview and a good measuring stick for Booker since he’ll be facing the best defensive team in the NBA this season. These two will play each other two more times before the new year, including a big Christmas Day game in Phoenix. These are the games where Booker can legitimately plant his flag atop the shooting guard mountain and claim the throne Kobe once presided over.
I think the battle for the top two-guard is still close, but if Booker keeps playing as efficiently as he has so far and the Suns keep pace with the Warriors, we’ll be able to crown him by season’s end, if not sooner. Even amid the scandal of their alleged bigot of an owner being outed, this team has found a way to tune out all the noise and keep winning. Some people don’t believe that intangibles exist or mean much in sports. Booker and the Suns are debunking that notion and putting their mental toughness on display for the entire league.